September 12, 2013
By Chris B. Bennett
Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium
The University of Washington Huskies’ football team has a long and storied history. Depending on what side of the street you sit on that history can be either good or bad.
A few years ago, much to the dismay of many in the African American community, the University of Washington honored former head football coach Jim Owens by placing a statue of his likeness in front of the entrance to Husky Stadium. There are those who refer to Owens as a legendary coach, although his name is not among the four Husky football coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Last weekend, I attended the first football game in the newly renovated Husky Stadium. There was much fanfare about the new facility and the venue is top notch. One of the things that caught my attention during the game was that two UW players were wearing the number “1” on their jersey – the same number worn by NFL Hall of Famer and former UW quarterback Warren Moon.
As I thought about the history of the UW football program, I wondered why Warren Moon’s jersey had not been retired. After all, he was the MVP of the 1978 Rose Bowl in which the Huskies upset the highly favored Michigan Wolverines. That game marked the Huskies first bowl appearance since 1964 and first bowl victory since 1961.
As it relates to Husky football, there is no doubt that Warren Moon is legendary. However, it was his accomplishments at the pro level that are even more extraordinary. Over the course of his 23-year career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the NFL, Moon threw for 70,533 yards and 435 touchdowns. In 2005, Moon became the first African American quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that the University of Washington has retired the numbers of only three football players – (2) Chuck Carroll, (33) George Wilson and (44) Roland Kirby. Carroll played during the late 1920’s and helped lead the Huskies to a 28-4 record during his collegiate career. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1964. Wilson, a three time All-American halfback during the mid 1920’s, was Washington’s first consensus All-American. Kirby was a member of the Husky’s fearsome foursome backfield in 1950 that featured Hugh McElhenny, Don Heinrich and Bill Early.
In reading the UW Gameday magazine, I saw an advertisement for the Big W Club Jersey Retirement that highlighted four former Huskies who were having their jerseys retired during the 2013-2014 season. According to the advertisement, “For a jersey to be retired, a student-athlete must win the national player of the year award in their respective sport.”
This appears to be short-sighted by whoever implemented this policy. This explains why the last Husky football player to have his number retired played back in the 1950s.
It appears that this policy needs to be re-addressed and the school needs to seriously consider the retirement of Warren Moon’s jersey. When you talk about legends and ambassadors of the game of football, Warren Moon’s name is certainly among the best of the best. Personally, I believe that it’s a travesty that 35 years after leading his team to one of the most historic Bowl wins in school history the University of Washington has failed to properly honor the achievements of Warren Moon by retiring his jersey.
Warren Moon was part of the beginning of a Husky football legacy that laid the foundation for the new Husky Stadium to be built. Without the football tradition that began in the late 70’s, we probably would not be talking about Rose Bowl victories, national championships and competing for top recruits. Warren Moon is one of the prominent faces of Husky football and it’s time for the Huskies to retire his jersey and truly honor the most accomplished football player the history of the school.
September 12, 2013
By Donald Hunt
Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune
Allen Iverson is preparing to officially announce his retirement from the NBA soon according to a SLAM Web report. Iverson hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010 when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2011, he played professional basketball in Turkey.
Iverson, 38, played 13 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 26.7 points a game for his career during the regular season. In the playoffs, he tallied 29.7 points a game. Interviewed at a Sixers’ game on March 30, Iverson told SLAM, “My No. 1 goal is trying to accomplish to be the best dad that I can. And if basketball is in my near future, then God will make that happen. But if not, I had a great ride and I’ve done a lot of special things that a lot of guys have not been able to accomplish and people thought I couldn ‘t accomplish.”
Iverson played six years (1997-2003) for head coach Larry Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers, who now coaches SMU. Brown has vivid memories of coaching one of the NBA’s most explosive players.
“He might be the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen,” Brown told SLAM. “I don’t think there will be another one like him.”
Iverson was a tremendous scholastic basketball and football player at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va. He played his college basketball at Georgetown University from 1994 to 1996. The 6-foot, 165-pound shooting guard, was chosen by the Sixers with No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. He was selected the NBA Rookie of the Year during the 1996-97 season. Iverson was named Most Valuable Player during the 2000-2001 season. That year, he led the Sixers to the NBA Finals.
He won four league scoring crowns. Iverson was selected to 11 NBA All-Star Games. He won the MVP honors in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game as well as 2005. He played for the Sixers from 1996 to 2006.
In 2006, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. He played two seasons for the Nuggets. In 2008, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons where he played for one season. In 2009, he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. That same year, the Sixers re-acquired him.
According to SLAM, Iverson will be eligible for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
September 12, 2013
NEW YORK -- Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea yet again, and this time he plans to bring a team of former NBA players with him.
Days after returning from his second trip to visit Kim Jong Un -- in which he said he became the first foreigner to hold the leader's newborn daughter -- Rodman announced plans Monday to stage two exhibition games in North Korea in January.
The first will be Jan. 8 -- Kim's birthday -- with another to follow two days later.
Rodman's friendship with the autocratic leader has been criticized -- and led to a couple of testy exchanges during his Manhattan news conference. But Rodman insists Kim is a good person and wants to have better relations with the United States, and that Rodman is the one who can help make it happen with his plan for "basketball diplomacy."
"Why North Korea? It'll open doors," Rodman said.
Touting his friendship with Kim and taunting President Barack Obama for not talking with him, Rodman said he will return to North Korea for a week in December to help select local players for the games. He hopes to have stars such as Karl Malone and former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen.
"Michael Jordan, he won't do it, because he's Michael Jordan," Rodman said.
Rodman, holding a cigar and wearing the shirt of a vodka company and a hat of a betting company that is funding the event, said Kim has asked him to train North Korea's players to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics and offered to allow the Hall of Famer to write a book about him.
Despite looking like a billboard, Rodman said he's not doing the event for money. He said the Irish betting company Paddy Power would put up $3.5 million. Paddy Power later said finances hadn't been determined.
And Rodman, who joked that he hadn't drawn such a crowd in New York since he wore a wedding dress to a book signing, was adamant that this venture was serious -- "groundbreaking," in Rodman's words.
"People think this is a gimmick. I would love to make this a gimmick ... but it's not about the money," he said.
He rarely referred to Kim by name, frequently calling him "the marshal." Rodman met Kim, a basketball fan, when traveling to North Korea in February for a film project.
Though saying he didn't want to discuss politics, Rodman raised his voice when answering a questioner about Kim's human rights record, and he portrayed himself as the person who could make outsiders see the young leader as different from his father and grandfather.
"He has to do his job, but he's a very good guy," Rodman said. "If he wanted to bomb anybody in the world, he would have done it."
Instead, Rodman had harder words for Obama, of whom he spoke angrily while talking to reporters last week after his trip. He talked around a question about American citizen and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what Pyongyang described as hostile acts against the state. Kim has the power to grant special pardons under North Korea's constitution.
Rodman said lobbying for the release of a prisoner wasn't his job, blaming the president for not reaching out to ease tensions between the countries.
"Why, Obama, are you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman?" Rodman said, his voice rising as if he were a professional wrestler -- another former pursuit -- calling out an opponent. "You're not afraid to talk to Beyonce and Jay Z, why not me? Why not me? I'm pretty important now, right?"
Rodman also said he would interview Kim on live TV during the trip. Organizers said details would be provided at a later date.
September 12, 2013
Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World
Atlanta’s own multimedia personality Rashan Ali will begin her stint as a sideline reporter for CBS Sports this fall.
As the 2013 college football season gets into full swing, the network has tapped Ali, best known to Atlantans for her presence on the city’s morning radio airwaves, to provide sports commentary from the sidelines of college football games that will air this fall nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Games featured will include long-time, exciting rivalries like Fordham University vs. LeHigh University and Southern Miss vs. Marshall.
Ali worked as a Sports Reporter while at HOT 107.9 in Atlanta and was invited to become a sideline reporter for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, which she did for four years. In 2009, Ali became one of few African American women providing sports commentary on a national scale as a reporter for the Chic-Fil-A Bowl Preview Show, which aired on ESPN 2 and ESPN U. She continued her work as the Social Media Correspondent during the 2010 & 2011 NBA Playoffs on NBA TV’s NBA Gametime Live, where she worked with analysts like Eric Snow and Chris Webber.
Most recently, Ali has been active on the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football Classic circuit, providing live reporting from the inaugural Nation’s Classic, which featured Howard University vs. Morehouse College in Washington, DC and the Atlanta Football Classic, which featured Southern University against her alma mater Florida A&M University. She was also a sideline reporter for Southern Conference Football during the 2011-2012 season.
“Covering college football on a major network is such an honor. I have always loved the essence of college football so to be on the sideline in this capacity is truly a dream come true,” said Ali. “There are some great teams being featured on the network that I’ve continued to follow over the years, so having the opportunity to work with their coaching staffs and players is monumental.”
In addition to her career as a sports commentator, Ali is also the host of the “Streetz Morning Grind” radio show on Streetz 94.5 FM in Atlanta, where she will continue to be featured weekdays from 6 am – 10 am. She will also continue her work with Sporty Girls, Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit organization she founded that exposes girls ages 8 – 18 to nontraditional sports like golf, soccer, tennis and swimming to help them improve social skills and academic performance while increasing their chances for collegiate scholarships.
September 12, 2013
By Kenneth Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
The forever evolving rags to riches journey of the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player Serena Williams is beginning to catapult into a sports stratosphere where only the elite athletes of all-time hang out.
After winning her 9th singles championship in 2013, the younger sister of Venus Williams is not just relishing in the soils of her impressive U.S. Open championship, but also bidding to become the greatest female athlete in history.
Don’t trip over your tennis racquets just yet, but after Grand Slam title number 17 to move to within 7 of all-time Margaret Court’s 24, the 31-year old who learned the game on the uneven asphalt courts of Compton is smoothly gliding into rare territory.
From the time she was the No. 1 ranked on the junior United States Tennis Association tour at 10-years old when she blistered competition in rolling to a 46-3 record, Serena Williams loved the taste of winning.
Daddy Richard rolled out the older Venus first, breaking age barriers at 14 on October 31, 1994, but while incubating the gem that was to follow at the same age in 1995.
Now, all grown up and having surpassed Venus in the sibling rivalry and striking the fear of God into ever opponent she faces on any surface, grass, hard-court or clay, it’s time to examine her alongside the greatest female athletes ever.
Keep in mind that Serena is far from being done as a professional tennis player and in addition to enduring a recent life health scare has also had to carry the weight of the murder of her sister Yetunde Price and the divorce of her parents Richard and Oracene.
She has a combined 31 career major championships including doubles competition with sister Venus and four Olympic gold medals, including two singles.
Her lofty credentials include winning 80 percent of her career tournaments, 79 of 99 and on every surface; 34 on hard court; 10 on clay; 6 on grass and 5 on carpet.
Moreover, she has captured the most prestigious Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships five times each.
Oh, by the way she owns a career .500 record against arguably the greatest women’s player of all time Steffi Graf.
She has earned close to $60 million in prize money plus another $30 million endorsements for cool $90 million.
The only argument that anyone can have against Serena as the best female athlete of all time, is that she’s feisty, confident, soulful and sexy –all the more reason fro me to love her.
Many would consider the best female athlete to be Jackie Joyner-Kersee who was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She's ultimately won three golds, a silver and two bronze, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.
Following Joyner-Kersee would have to be the late Florence Griffith- Joyner, also known as "Flo Jo," who starred at the 1984 Summer Olympics winning a silver medal in the 200-meter run. During the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Griffith-Joyner took home three gold medals and a silver. She still holds world records in the 100 and 200 meters.
Althea Gibson opened the doors for Serena and Venus. Her great talent was in tennis, but in the 1950s, most tournaments were closed to African-Americans. Gibson kept playing until her skills could no longer be denied, and became the first African American to play at Wimbledon.
"I have never regarded myself as a crusader. I don't consciously beat the drums for any cause, not even the negro in the United States," Gibson said of her pioneering efforts.
Wilma Rudolph would certainly have to be in the conversation. Born a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg, Rudolph She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome.
Another track and field sensation Allyson Felix earned back-to-back Olympic silver medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She earned her first gold that year, with the women's 4-by-400-meter relay team. Felix became a three-time Olympic gold medalist in 2012; at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she won two gold medals, in the women's 200 and the 4-by-100-meter relay.
Alice Coachman made history at the 1948 Olympics in London when leapt to a record-breaking height of 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches in the high jump finals to become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, but that alone would not even qualify her as best.
Basketball icon Sheryl Swoopes would have to be in the mix. Swoopes was the first professional basketball player signed by the WNBA and was often referred to as the female Michael Jordan.
Swoopes won three Olympic gold medals and is a multiple WNBA MVP. She is also the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her.
Another hoop star Teresa Edwards won four Olympic gold medals (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000) – an Olympic record -- and a bronze medal (1992). Edwards also won the USA Basketball Player of the Year in 1987 and 1991.
Cheryl Miller’s achievements on the basketball court are undeniable. She was a four-time All-American, and she also won three Naismith Player of the Year trophies while at USC.
However, Lisa Leslie-Lockwood is probably considered the best basketball player ever.
Leslie-Lockwood was a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner. She was considered a pioneer and cornerstone of the league during her WNBA career. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history.
Billy Jean King won a wealth of Grand Slam titles in singles tournaments, doubles tournaments, and even occasionally in tournaments that she didn’t even attend, but it doubtful she could beat Serena.
Let the debating begin, but in the meantime I consider it Serena-Love!